Basement membranes contain two major molecular networks consisting of laminin and collagen IV. Previous antibody perturbation experiments suggest that the interaction between laminin and nidogen-1 is necessary for proper basement membrane formation and epithelial development, whereas results from gene ablation experiments in mice show that both basement membranes and general development are grossly normal in the absence of nidogen-1. To refine the perturbation approach, we produced F9-teratocarcinoma-cell-derived embryoid bodies in the presence of recombinantly expressed nidogenbinding sites localized within the gammaIIII3-5 laminin fragment. We found basement membranes were disrupted in gammaIIII3-5-expressing embryoid bodies. As a measurement of basement membrane function, we tested permeability and detected drastically increased diffusion rates in correlation with basement membrane disruption. Furthermore, TROMA-1 localization in embryoid bodies expressing the nidogen-binding site was altered, suggesting separation of epithelium-specific gene expression from the formation of the actual epithelium when occurring in the absence of an organized basement membrane
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